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Saturday, September 3, 2016
Today’s Reading | Luke 9:10–17
On their return the apostles told Jesus all they had done. He took them with him and withdrew privately to a city called Bethsaida. When the crowds found out about it, they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured. The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place.” But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” They did so and made them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces. (NRSV)
All of this hand wringing about the crowd and its growling tummies. It’s the silent force in the story. The crowd has the problem, and yet it says nothing. Which makes me wonder: Are the disciples peddling a solution in search of a problem? Could the disciples be the problem?
’The crowd is at Bethsaida, a small fishing village on the sea, having followed Jesus there somewhat against his (or, at least, the disciples’) wishes and then lapped up his stirring words and healing touch. Now it’s dinner time, and it seems nobody brought their brown-bag lunch. This was supposed to be a private retreat for the disciples to begin with, but the crowd, like a hyper toddler intruding on her parents’ private conversation, put an end to that.
Make. Them. Go. Away.
We require spirituality. Their hunger pricks our conscience. Program away their need.
And the fiercely sought One, who has poured himself into this crowd from dawn to dusk, welcoming its’ needs, speaking good news to its’ desperation, touching its sick heads and limbs, must be spent of his patience and strength as he looks at his students over his glasses and sighs.
Give them something to eat.
They’re hungry, not dying. They’re people, not problems. Move toward them.
Jesus, orient us to your people in need, that we may see them as you see them, as you see us, as your beloved children, and not as problems needing fixing. And may we pursue you with the rigor of a crowd. Amen.
Written by Rocky Supinger, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry
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